Title VIII Funding at Illinois — A Letter From REEEC Director and Associate Director

Dear Colleagues, Community, and Friends,


It is now widely known that the Department of State Title VIII program has been suspended due to lack of funding for the 2013 cycle of applications. While it remains uncertain whether the program will be revived, the REEEC community of faculty and staff at Illinois intend to host the Summer Research Lab (SRL) in 2014 for its 41st session.  Unfortunately, this session will have fewer funding opportunities for participants. This is to say that while the loss of Title VIII support this year is detrimental, it is not devastating in the short term. Thanks to the foresight of past faculty and REEEC Directors, we have the means available to continue SRL while we search for new, perhaps more sustainable, funding streams. It should be noted that this news from the Title VIII program in no way impacts our status as a Department of Education National Resource Center, FLAS funding, our degree programs, or other academic year activities that REEEC offers as a center. 


Cutbacks can often lead to innovation and make way for new ideas to spring forth.  The REEEC community has already gotten to work on expanding, re-thinking, and developing ideas for what the Summer Research Lab can become in a world where future Title VIII funding may be completely unavailable. Because of the creativity and insight of the REEEC Executive Committee, plans are currently in place to expand SRL offerings in 2014 in partnership with our colleagues at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Further reconfiguration and expansion is also in the planning stages, so please stay tuned to our website and blog for announcements.


Patrons of the Slavic Reference Service (SRS) should be aware that SRS will continue to provide support for reference requests as usual. Thanks to the leadership in the International and Area Studies Library (IASL), arrangements have been made to maintain staffing at the Slavic Reference Service. In addition, the IASL has been working towards developing an enhanced reference service modeled on the SRS to include expanded expertise and a broader range of materials and service to more scholars and specialists the world over.


In addition to new partnerships and programmatic developments, REEEC has embarked on a fundraising campaign to help replace funds no longer available from Title VIII. Part of this campaign includes an appeal for community support. If you have benefited from Title VIII in the past and want to help the next generation of scholars, please consider making a donation to the Friends of REEEC fund, indicating your intention to support SRL (http://www.reeec.illinois.edu/friends/). With these monies, we hope to provide housing and travel grants to graduate students and early career scholars to visit Illinois during SRL. The programmatic sharing of our remarkable library collection, which makes it a more vital resource for scholars than the few collections that outsize it, will thus definitely continue.


Again, it is with a heavy heart that we consider the ways in which the loss of Title VIII funding will impact the field of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. The program is responsible for funding countless hours of research, language training, and field visits, which has led to thousands of publications, hundreds of specialists in the field, and dozens of new and enhanced courses at American universities. It is our mission at Illinois to continue to serve as resource for those with limited opportunities for field visits and access to vernacular materials. While it is our hope that Title VIII funding will be renewed in the near future, we will also seek other sustainable means to continue to offer services and support for scholars and research professionals to the best of our ability. 

Please feel free to contact REEEC for any comments or questions regarding the contents of this message. We look forward to seeing many of you again for SRL 2014.  

With all best wishes,

Dr. David L. Cooper, REEEC Director  & Ms. Alisha Kirchoff, REEEC Associate Director 


For further information, analysis and media coverage on the status of Title VIII, please visit the following links:  

RIA Novosti “US Defunds Venerable Russian Studies Program:” http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131023/184302924/US-Defunds-Venerable-Russian-Studies-Program.html

RIA Novosti “US Ambassador Alumnus of Defunded Russia Studies Program:” http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131025/184359108/US-Ambassador-Alumnus-of-Defunded-Russia-Studies-Program.html

Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2013/10/23/federal-cuts-eurasian-and-eastern-european-studies

ASEEES Title VIII Alert: http://www.aseees.org/new/title8-alert.php

Russia Direct, “Why America Needs to Fund the Next Generation of Russia Scholars:” http://russia-direct.org/content/why-america-needs-fund-next-generation-russia-scholars

Russia History Blog: http://russianhistoryblog.org/2013/10/federal-defunding-of-russian-and-eurasian-studies/

Sean’s Russia Blog, “Defunding Title VIII:” http://seansrussiablog.org/2013/10/23/defunding-title-viii/

Sean’s Russia Blog, “Title VIII and Ambassador McFaul:” http://seansrussiablog.org/2013/10/26/title-viii-ambassador-mcfaul/

REEEC Associate Joe Lenkart Wins Prestigious Academic Professional’s Award

REEEC congratulates Joe Lenkart on winning the Outstanding Academic Professional’s Award for the University of Illinois Library System.  Mr. Lenkart holds an MA in Russian and East European Studies and an MS in Library and Information Science. He has been Research Associate and Reference Specialist at the Slavic Reference Service (SRS) since 2009. From the four Slavic research librarians, Lenkart is the only full-time staff member at SRS, where he assists numerous students, faculty, and other scholars with research queries day-to-day. Above all, he admits that it is a particular “joy to work with students, a motivation for all the staff” at SRS.

Joe Lenkart at the "Issyk Kul 2011. Libraries and the Democratization of Society"  International Conference in the Kyrgyz Republic

Joe Lenkart (center) at the “Issyk Kul 2011. Libraries and the Democratization of Society” International Conference in the Kyrgyz Republic

Mr. Lenkart was one of ten award recipients among hundreds of staff working in the approximately 20 libraries at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After being nominated by Mara Thacker of the International and Area Studies Library and SRS interim manager Kit Condill, Lenkart received his award this August at a ceremony for library faculty and academic professionals.  Though this distinction earned him a monetary prize, Lenkart emphasized that what gave him the most happiness and pride was the recognition SRS received. According to Lenkart, SRS handled over 2,600 questions in July 1, 2012 – May 30, 2013. “We take on a lot of work for faculty and students, not only on campus, but from all over” and “SRS needs all the support we can get,” he added. With the incredible amount of resources available online, SRS expands its reach worldwide. “No one has as large and generous a collection as us,” Joe observed. “We’re one of the few places with lengthy inter-library loan periods.” Receiving the award was a real help to SRS, both within the library and within the University at large. For forty years, SRS has been “reliable, efficient,and reassuring,” prioritizing its many patrons and their needs. Lenkart hopes that the greater recognition will lead to more demand for SRS. “The more questions, the better,” he underscored. Lenkart acknowledged the tremendous support from University faculty, particularly those affiliated with REEEC. Always humble, he stressed that he is indebted to the other staff members at SRS. “We’ve always been a team. Day in and day out, we’re a team,” he added.

Joe has worked with REEEC’s Summer Research Laboratory (SRL), which celebrated its 40th anniversary this summer. The group of researchers that came was the largest ever. Joe noted that they were surprised by the small size of the SRS staff, expecting a much larger organization befitting the stellar reputation and intensive query load of the service. He hopes that the increased visibility and recognition of SRS will contribute to more support from the University.

Letter from the New Director

It was a pleasure to see so many of you at the REEEC Fall Reception on September 6, and I look forward to getting to know many more of you in the broader REEEC community and working with you in the years ahead. Prior to the reception we inaugurated the Fall semester with a New Directions lecture by our own Diane Koenker of the Department of History on “Vacations, Tourism, and Socialist Consumption in the Post-Stalin USSR.” The successful combination of entertaining and insightful intellectual nourishment with a tasty dessert reception is characteristic of the attention of the outgoing REEEC Director, Richard Tempest, to the mind, as well as the body.

I take the wheel at REEEC, of a ship that is riding high and moving under, full steam ahead. At the fall reception we thanked Richard for his hard work and his leading role in the significant accomplishments of REEEC over the past five years. Under his capable stewardship, REEEC was able to assist in securing a number of affiliated faculty positions in several disciplines, most recently in Slavic, Anthropology, and Sociology. Significantly, Richard was able to help bring to fruition, years of discussion with donors to realize their desire to help Ukrainian Studies find an institutional foothold here. Finally, in a period when Federal funding priorities have been volatile, and when the volume of new reporting requirements has expanded exponentially, Richard has led the efforts of a very accomplished staff. With your assistance as well, he has enabled REEEC to outperform its peer institutions in the competition for Federal Title VI and Title VIII grant funds. Donations from the REEEC community allowed us to present Richard with a gift as a token of our appreciation: a Russian first edition of Solzhenitsyn’s novel In the First Circle.

There have been a few other transitions at REEEC or in positions close to REEEC over the summer. Most of you have probably heard that Helen Sullivan left her long-term position at the Slavic Reference Service this summer for another position in the library. Many have expressed a desire to recognize Helen and thank her appropriately for the impact her work has had on their scholarship, and the research and scholarship of so many others over the years. REEEC is working with the Slavic librarians to prepare an appropriate recognition and way of thanking her. Please watch this newsletter for your opportunity to be involved if you are interested. REEEC is also working closely with Steven Witt, the Head of the International and Area Studies Library, to pursue the hiring of a new manager of the Reference Service that will ensure the continuity of this critical institution.

Some of you also will have noticed that Melissa Agee is no longer sitting at the front desk when you come to REEEC. She moved, in August, to Texas. We are pleased to have the unfortunately temporary, but very capable help of Barbara Unangst for now and will be hiring a new Office Associate before too long. Jennifer Bylsma is also providing additional, essential help in the office for the interim period. We will highlight the new faculty who have joined the university and REEEC in our newsletters over the coming months.

As I write, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures is gearing up for a weeklong visit by Alexander Etkind, a Professor at King’s College, University of Cambridge, and principal investigator of the interdisciplinary Memory at War project (see: www.memoryatwar.org). His visit will include multiple lectures and class visits, including a New Directions talk for REEEC on Thursday, the 20th of September. I encourage members of the REEEC community to take advantage of the multiple opportunities that will be available to interact with this leading scholar.

Just one week later, REEEC will welcome our first Distinguished Lecturer, Lidia Grafova, Chairwoman of the Forum of Migration Organizations, for a talk on “Migration and Human Rights in the Russian Federation.” A rich schedule of speakers and conferences will fill the REEEC calendar this year, as always, and we invite your suggestions for speakers via our newly revised web form https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/1154025. The revised form, which should be less of a hurdle to complete, is a part of our efforts to make our communications with you easier and better, as the new look of this monthly email newsletter is another. Hopefully, it will encourage you to click through and read the articles or save them (we now will provide pdf files of articles) for later reading, and to keep up with what the REEEC community is doing. Such a newsletter, of course, also requires your more active participation. Please let REEEC know about your conference presentations, invited lectures, new publications and outreach ventures so that we can share them with the broader REEEC community—it is that communication that helps to make us a community, after all.

Finally, I would like to invite all of you to engage me and the REEEC staff in an ongoing dialogue about our priorities and programs, which are your priorities and programs. How can we improve in our interactions with you? What opportunities does REEEC have for further involvement in your research and in your discipline, for building the kind of intellectual community you want to be involved in? I look forward to hearing from you, and working together to keep REEEC involved at the cutting edge of all that we do.

David L. Cooper

New Online Database at the Slavic Reference Service on The Russian Empire and Soviet Union

The Slavic Reference Service (SRS), in collaboration a team of Research Associates of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies led Dr. John H. Brown and Dr. Steven A. Grant, is now host to a searchable database version of The Russian Empire and Soviet Union: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States. This database enables researchers to view UIUC print holdings, digitized text of the guide (via the Library of Congress),and the searchable database in one place.

This database will be updated and maintained by the Slavic Reference Service. Researchers can explore archival depositories and collection highlights in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Alaska. According to the compilers, the scope of this database includes: “… public and private institutions, including university libraries and archives, public libraries, museums, ethnic organizations, church and business archives, federal and state governmental archives, and both public and private historical societies. Some collections owned by private individuals are also noted.” Moreover, the materials listed in the database include: “… correspondence, reports, organizational records, account books, essays, literary manuscripts, diaries, journals, memoirs, autobiographies, photographs, films, tape recordings, and graphic material. With the exception of certain mimeographed materials and rare clippings, nearly all printed matter has been excluded. Those seeking published books, periodicals, theses, and the like should refer to appropriate catalogs of library collections. However, unpublished facsimiles, photo reproductions, and microfilms of originals (even of originals subsequently published) have been taken to be archival materials in this guide. “ In terms of geographic coverage, the compilers have tried to include “all nationalities and regions” within the former Soviet Union. In the addition to the link above, researchers can directly access this database here.

SRS is funded in part by the Department of State Title VIII Grant Program. To find out more bout SRS and its offerings, please visit the SRS Website and Blog.

SRS part of new International Area Studies Library!


This article was originally posted on the Slavic Reference Service Blog on July 26, 2011.

As of August 22, 2011, the Slavic Reference Service will be one of the array of services offered in the new International Area Studies Unit (IAS).   While the collection and staff are being moved, August 5-21,  we will be closed for walk-in requests.  However, we will try to address ILL, email and chat requests, as time permits.

The new unit will be locatd in room 321 Main Library, the third floor, on the south side of the building. For those familiar with the library it will be in the space formerly occupied by the English library and that of the Asian library.

Our service will continue to operate as before.  We have been fortunate to secure funding for the coming year from the U.S. Department of State, Title VIII program and the library here at the University of Illinois.

The reference collections of the Slavic, Africana, Asian, Global Studies and Latin American units will all be housed in this space and the librarians of those units will be available for consultation. The Slavic Reference Service will also be available in this space.

The reference collections, periodicals and microform collections will be in Room 321.  While we are in transit (August 5-21) our service could be delayed.  We ask for your patience as we get settled into this new space.  Barring any unforeseen delays, we should be back to normal by August 22.